Flint receives nearly $80 million in federal funding for water projects
The beleaguered city may catch a break when tens of millions in federal funding for new water infrastructure begins to flow, but officials warn much, much more is needed
Flint, Mich., which has been beset with a water crisis for several years, will receive $77.7 million in remaining federal funding to pay for water infrastructure improvements.
The state of Michigan is releasing the funds, which come from a $120 million federal and state loan that was given to Flint by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016, back in March 2017. The funds will pay for several Flint water infrastructure projects, according to MLive.com.
Rob Bincsik, Flint’s Director of Public Works, said while it is great Flint is receiving funding for infrastructure projects, the funding was already anticipated.
“While we(’re) grateful for this funding it’s important to understand it’s not new funding,” Bincsik told mLive. “The federal government awarded this funding and is utilizing the MDEQ’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund as the mechanism to disperse it to the City of Flint.”
The funding will be applied to projects that create a secondary water source pipeline; improve a major reservoir and pump stations; fund the construction of a chemical feed building; replace the city’s northwest transmission main, water main, water meter, make improvements to the water quality monitoring panel and replace the contingency service line.
“These projects will help the short and long term sustainability of the water system in the city of Flint, but as stated in the Water Distribution Optimization Plan the water system needs in excess of another $300 million in capital improvements over the next 20 years,” Bincsik explained to MLive.
In addition to the $77.7 million, the city of East Lansing, Mich., received a $51.7 million loan, and Monroe County on behalf of Bedford Township, Mich., was awarded a $10.2 million loan for similar water infrastructure projects, MLive reported.
The city of Flint, about an hour north of Detroit, was once the home of the largest General Motors plant in the country. When GM downsized, it greatly impacted the city.
The state of Michigan began controlling Flint’s finances in 2011, after an audit reveals the city had a $25 million deficit. To reduce the water fund shortfall, Flint announced it would build a new pipeline to deliver water from Lake Huron to Flint. While the pipeline was under construction, the city turned to the contaminated Flint River as a water source. The result was more than 100,000 residents of the city being exposed to heightened lead levels and other contaminants, prompting then-President Obama to declare a state of emergency.